Philip Moore has been on all of our radars for years now. He consistently progresses his skating with his creative and versatile vocabulary. Philip is the kind of skater who makes tricks look correct. Proof of that are the competitions he’s won such as placing first at the biggest North American competition, Blading Cup, in 2018. He is a powerhouse in our industry.
I have been fortunate to have multiple conversations with Philip over the course of a couple of months, having learned so much about him in that time. From his blade life that includes a recent injury, recreational blade classes, his sponsorship by Rollerblade; to his opinions on how we could improve our community and our industry as a whole. We spoke about the weight of your words in-person and online. In the time since our first chat, much has transpired though. The tragic death of George Floyd that sparked the worldwide protests for racial injustice and police brutality hit close to home for Philip. It seemed only right to get his insights during this difficult time.
The Be-Mag staff also spoke internally and we came up with several questions regarding racism and how Philip has had to deal with it throughout his life. After getting his responses, I could only conclude that of course he has encountered racism in various forms. Some which individuals like myself can’t conceive. During some self-reflection after speaking to him, I realized these questions aren’t for Philip or people of color. They are for those in society that don’t know what it is like to face discrimination daily. These questions need to be acknowledged on a societal level and need to be listened to, not just acknowledged. As a group, we need to help find long term solutions that aren’t just bandaids. We need to eradicate the systems that perpetuate institutionalized racism and the oppression of people who don’t know life without looking over their shoulders.
Let’s jump straight into things Philip. First the blade basics. How long have you been blading and how did you get into it?
I got rec skates from Toys R Us. I don’t remember if it was for my birthday or what. I just remember being 8 and going in and getting some black skates with green wheels and neon highlights. I don’t think they were Rollerblade brand[ed skates]. My first memory [with them] was taking the brakes off of them because it seemed like it was going to get in my way. I recall being out in front of my house jumping over the manhole cover and doing 180’s, not even knowing that it was a trick and having so much fun.
Probably around 1999 or 2000, I got my first aggressive skates which were Salomon ST-9’s. That was because I had seen [the Disney film] Brink! and Airborne on cable at my grandparents’ house. Then I saw this Fox Sports Net thing and I can’t remember who it was, but it was a guy from New York. He went to a barbershop, gets his hair cut, and goes out and skates a street spot. They were talking about FISE or NYSS and there was a Roller Warehouse commercial. So, I wrote the number down and talked to my mom who was wary of buying the first thing I saw(a pair of OXYGENs). So my mom being an amazing mum instead found a pair of salomons at a local bike shop. Then a couple years later I was given a pair of far too large Razors Lievanos Pros for Christmas, that was less of a pull.
Micah Yeager was my most influential blader growing up. Who inspired you the most coming up?
I have so much trouble narrowing it down, but for sure Micah Yeager was gigantic for me. I actually met him when I went to Texas for a contest. I was blown away with how nice of a guy he was and how chill he was. The year that I won Blading Cup, the Friday before I already felt like I won because I got to hang out with Micah and Chase Rushing. Nick Riggle was a major influence for sure, I still hassle him sometimes on Instagram. Nick Riggle said that his current favorite skaters were Bobi Spassov, Dominic Bruce, or Robbie Pitts, and then me! Haha. His influence was really big for me. I remember seeing the Salomon videos and seeing his style of skating in contrast with everyone else’s was very significant for me. Dominic Sagona was an influence as well. Elements 2 was the first video I ever owned and his section was amazing.
Amongst the Be-Mag staff and myself, we’ve been talking about our influential skate video picks. I think this is a very hard question and I haven’t been able to answer it. That being said, I’ll ask you – do you have a favorite video or section?
If I had to choose— I won’t say of all time, just my personal thoughts. I have to take it all the way back. My favorite section would be Dustin Latimer’s section in Elements 2 it is a classic. It had everything in it. It was tech, it was gaps, it had everything. His love for what he was doing with wheels was so clear in his skating, it exudes style and carefree creativity.
Is there anyone that you would like to collab with?
Okay, I want to put Dom West out there! Dom, I’m trying to make a section with you! It may be very small; you’re probably going to hate it. But if you make it look good with the camera, we’re good. I don’t think it would be large scale enough for him haha.
Ivan! Ivan, I’d like a section, please. Maybe like a shared section? Let me think. I would like to work with Carter LeBlanc. It would be great to do a section with him. He is sick. I would like to work with Mike Buckalew again. It’s always great working with him.
Ian Walker would be a solid one for sure, COVID and my arm iced my summer plans pretty quickly. I had hoped to go film with Ian over the summer. But for dream collabs, I’d have to say a fully Michael Briggs produced project would be amazing and probably life-changing. He has all the tools I need to really skate like the pros, plus he makes music and edits pretty fantastically as well.
I know with covid, a lot of things are on hold, but are you working on any projects or collaborations you’d want to tell us about?
Nothing in the works right now. Though I’d like to direct people over to watch Hit It Whet. Taylor [Kobryn] made a great video. I have a section in it. Cameron [Talbott] had a section in it. Danny [Malm] had a section in it. [John] Vossoughi had a section in it. Jimmy [Kobryn] had a section great stuff. Joey [Lunger] had a section great stuff. There could be another video in the works —we’ll see.
Since our last conversation, Philip has been filming a few bits here and there with Rich Diaz since his cast has been off, so hopefully by end of summer, we’ll have a new section!
It recently was announced that you were added to the Rollerblade Team. How stoked were you when you found out the news?
It feels crazy! I remember telling my mom and dad. I was like, “I got sponsored by Rollerblade! They were surprised and excited! I was like I got sponsored by the company that makes rollerblades haha. It’s really cool. It came about by skating a long time and through my homies talking me up. Everything just fell into place.
You were injured at the start of the covid pandemic. What happened and do you have any tips you could give to keep us sane during all of this?
I broke my arm and dislocated a wrist right as the world shut down. That was kind of convenient because everything has stopped and I also can’t do stuff. I have spent a lot of time at home. I subbed a mandarin class this morning on Zoom. Other than that, it’s very chill.
I roll around the neighborhood sometimes with my dog on my big wheels. I have also been watching Netflix and anything I can find to occupy my mind like reading and drawing. I’m right-handed by nature, but I have been trying to draw with my left hand and have surprised myself so far!
How is your local scene doing and what do you think sets it apart from other scenes?
It’s weird here. I live in Oakland and the Bay [area of Northern California] is huge, so you can go to a skatepark anywhere out here on a random day and see a rollerblader. They may be young or old. They may be just starting out or coming back. There are a lot of people out here and so much space. I feel like I can’t say that I’m seeing a whole lot of aggressive [skate] growth, but I see a lot of [recreational skating] growth in my area with the kids I work with just wanting to skate. I know that they want to learn stuff. So, like with my rollerblading classes at my school, part of the yard has a handicap rail and I keep the kids over there. They are embarrassed to be seen falling so we stay over there. I show them like, “hey you can grind or jump over stuff.” I tell them I’m not going to teach them that here, but I like to show them there is more than rolling around on the ground and stuff like that.
I think that the rec scene is ultimately good for the aggressive scene because you have to start somewhere. I think in this day and age, people don’t just jump into our sport.
Being that you started skating so early on and have made your way to be pro, what advice do you have for those starting out?
I teach rollerblading lessons or at least I did before all of the Corona stuff shut everything down. I think the first thing is to get comfortable on your skates. If you get comfortable on your skates, it opens up so many other doors. If you find something that you like more, go for it. Not everybody is meant to rollerblade. Everybody should, because it is fun, but do the things you like. Find your thing and do it.
Shifting gears somewhat, how do you think blading has affected your mentality and the way you approach life?
I feel like I have tried to integrate the commitment mentality from rollerblading into my everyday life, but a lot of times it’s difficult to translate. I feel that mostly it impacted my confidence to be myself in other environments. Not as self conscious as a younger me might have been to speak my mind.
I think that rollerblading has made me a bit more of an extroverted person. I think the world outside of skating gives me more anxiety than the world in skating. It has given me the ability to know what I want to do when making decisions in my daily life.
You’ve gotten to know the industry more and more through the people you skate with and now as a sponsored skater. Do you have any thoughts on the industry from the vantage point of now being an insider? Do you have thoughts on the community as a whole?
I don’t think that rollerblading has a lot of problems, but I do feel like the ones it has are similar to the problems that are in our world at large. It would be great if companies would do a little bit more to support the riders who are putting out their content, and are promoting their brands. I think it would be good for companies to look and spotlight newer people or look for different perspectives of skating. Because there is so much more to skating than the guy that can do the most grinds or the most technical or farthest grinds or that stuff.
Aside from that, if our sport wants to grow, and our community wants to be here in 20 or 30 years, we need to be more accepting & inclusive. If we want to see more kids learning grinds and watch them become the individuals winning contests. We need to be more accepting and open. We need to call in not call out. If we don’t make ourselves allies. When I say allies, I know that when this goes up some people are going to read it and be like oh, he’s on some social justice warrior nonsense blah blah blah, but you know what guys? The thing is, those people that are expecting justice from their society, which is you and me, I think we should offer it to them. Because I think that if we could offer that to each other in our community, we can impact the rest of the world. It will be incremental but it is change. If we can shut down homophobia, and transphobia in rollerblading it’s not going to stop it in the world immediately but we are making it harder and harder for people to get by who put that shit out into the world. If your homies are saying fucked up shit or making jokes at the expense of marginalized groups, its your job to call that shit out. The thing is though if you want to keep those people around you also have to try to “call them in” let them know how what they are doing or saying has impact beyond their intention. It’s pretty simple, we have a moral obligation to make the world we live in a more ethical place than the one we were born into, especially in rollerblading if we are always asking for more people to be a part of our sport.
You can’t get mad the next time somebody is like I wanted to skate but I met some dudes and they seemed pretty mean or used some offensive language(this is a thing that we complain about from skateboarders) so I decided not to go back. That is where the money is going. That is where people are going. People want to go where they are supported and feel both seen and valued.
I just want rollerbladers to take a step back and think about the shit you’re saying before you post it on the internet. Maybe something seems funny to you, but maybe you should stop and think about it before you post. Everyone doesn’t have the same perspective as you. I’m not saying we should walk on eggshells, just a minimal amount of thought directed at the possible impact of our words. Let’s try to make this a safe place.
In light of the events involving George Floyd and Amy Cooper, as well as the nationwide protests that have been spawned, what do think it says about the racial tensions at this point in time in America?
I’m 34 and lived up in Birmingham, Alabama until I was 30. I can say that I don’t think it has gotten any better. I think that people saw Barack Obama becoming president as some sort of end to or shift in things here in america. It did almost the opposite it brought to light more of those who were very much opposed to the idea of attempts to make up for any of the evils this country has done.
If we are not able to acknowledge the country’s past as a whole and its impact on present day, it is pretty hard to imagine us getting past racism at all or the divide it has created. But in light of the protests and widespread outrage, I’m in full support.
I will go on record and say BURN IT ALL DOWN! This country needs to be rebuilt from the ground up, so for the people crying about property destroyed you will get over it, all property can be replaced, human lives cannot be replaced.
Do you think with all the other events we are facing at this point in time within American history, that it has escalated the situation we are currently in?
Things are pretty extreme right now with so much going on. We have Corona going on, Donald Trump being a D-bag, and racism going crazy. Shit is mad in the streets. The cops are going wild and having a field day with it all. And we still have people saying “the cops aren’t that bad we should keep them around and reform them. They hold us together like glue.” They do no such thing, the police are a remnant of the slave trade and legalized slavery in this very country, when people were considered property. To this very day the police in this country simply protect property and maintain order by protecting white lives, helping white supremacy maintain its hold.
But my favorite thing is the awesomeness of confederate monuments being torn down.
Where would we be on that if it wasn’t for police officers being shitty at their jobs? They’re not holding us together, they are tearing us apart. That is why we are here where we are now. They actually caused the protests and spurred them on like someone adding wood to a fire.
You have strong opinions on police and their place in society. There has been pubic discussion about disbanding the police. Do you think we should?
Keeping something that came from slavery is probably not the best idea in a country that still doesn’t acknowledge that slavery was fucked up and is actually still causing a bunch of problems in America to this day. It feels like reforming them is probably the worst idea because that involves keeping them. Knowing that they came from slavery is pretty hard for every person of color. You can’t help but think “Oh you’re supposed to protect and serve me” or “you’re here to protect and serve the white dudes that would have maybe owned me at some point in the past.”
What does it say about the state of white privilege when you can weaponize racism like Amy Cooper did?
It is further proof to me of the underlying problem. The police aren’t here to protect and serve people who look like me. They are here to protect and save white people and white people’s property from the dangers of people that are brown, darker, different, or speak a different language.
She [Amy Cooper] knew that they were her tool. That is why so many people call them [that]. It’s crazy because exclusively in this case and especially in others that have been made public, a white lady knew ‘I can definitely make myself safe by calling the cops. It doesn’t matter if I’m in the wrong. If I hit you, I’m going to call the cops and they will keep me safe. You will probably go to jail or die, but I’ll be safe.’ That’s the main thing here. She felt uncomfortable, even just an inconvenient uncomfortability, and that is all it takes to kill black people. [A white woman] can use the police as a weapon against an imagined threat.
I was thinking about the difference in being kicked out of a spot as a white male versus being kicked out as a person of color. I couldn’t help but think that people would treat a person of color as an aggressor immediately without any provocation as compared to the way they would treat white individual. Has that your experience?
I remember being around 17 and skating in downtown Birmingham and we were skating a ledge at a law firm. The ledge is an old spot and has clearly been skated a ton. There is a little grass gap that you grind across when you do the ledge. I lost one of my axle bolts in the grass and I was looking for it. As I’m looking, three police cars pull up. They [the police] all jump out of their cars with [their] guns drawn. There was one black lady cop with long dreads and a huge gun. She starts yelling at me while pointing her gun at me and asked I wanted to get shot. I’m on the ground looking for this bolt and all my friends are gathering their things to leave, then I have this lady telling me do you want me to shoot you? Thinking back on it, I was a young and was just looking for a bolt, not thinking that she could have just shot me [dead].
I have had other instances here in SF [San Francisco], but they are a different series of situations. Primarily just security guards on power trips.
As a follow up question, do you feel you need to do anything to de-escalate these situations as they are beginning?
As an adult skating [a spot], if someone wants to kick us out and they seem like they have some actual authority or are an actual cop with a gun, I just step aside, gather my things, and get out of there. You know there are instances where the homies will talk to the cops and stuff. I just don’t really want to talk to them or anything. There is nothing positive or good that would come out of me talking to a cop. My current go-to move is to just let the homies do the talking and I just gather my things.
This reminds me of a time in San Diego [California] where this helicopter was kicking us out from a school when I was with the SD guys. We were getting kicked out because there were some kids on top of the school trying to burn a palm tree. As we were leaving, the cops pulled up and got out of their cars. It was Justin [Eisinger], [Jon] Fromm, and Russell [Day] walking out of the school first. Then, I came around the corner and the cops were like, “oh we gotta get this guy.” The homies were like no, no he’s with us, we were skating. In that case, it was bad that I was in the back of the group, but if I would have come out first, this might not have gone so well [either]. I just try to avoid any interaction with police officers.
Do you think within the rollerblading community there are subtle forms of racism the community at large may not be aware of?
There are not that many black, professional rollerbladers. We don’t have much representation. There haven’t been many pro skates for black rollerbladers either.
[Jon] Julio doing donations for Black Lives Matters with the Momentum merch is a positive thing for sure. I just hope that there is more from our community from here on out. Not just doing things right now. The black and brown people in the community would greatly appreciate feeling supported beyond a flashpoint of obvious evil. This shit happens far too much and I personally would like to see more than just one time things.
There have been a few rollerbladers in recent years that were writing [racist] things on their social media accounts. When they got called out, they claimed that they didn’t know. I don’t understand how that is a thing really. I feel like that’s an answer you can’t really have these days. Honestly, if you’re saying it, you shouldn’t be, but just be like, “I wanted to say it.” To me, that is a more reasonable answer than, “I didn’t know it wasn’t ok. I thought it was chill.” Just be racist and mad about it. Don’t act like it’s ignorance. Maybe that’s an issue on its own, but not in this instance.
There are rollerbladers that are white and know they’re white, but they choose to dawn a way of speaking that might be that might traditionally be associated with a black person perhaps. Which is not to say all black people speak the same. But again, some things are clearly taken from some places. When I see things like that in skating. I’m like, “Oh damn why is someone… Ok alright, I guess I’ll just let that ride.” I guess that’s cool even though it bothers me. Being called brother or hearing white doods say the “nigga” are just some examples of micro aggressions.
After I won Blading Cup, I said we all should be more accepting, inviting, and inclusive in our sport since we [as a community] want more people to do it and that is all we talk about. A lot of people told me that they appreciated me saying it because we feel the same way. Though they were worried that people were not going to accept them or would look down on them. Or shun them completely because that is a thing that could and does happen in this world we live in. I feel that there should be more people speaking up and I hope that us talking about it now with everything that is going on in America and the world will make it easier for people to stand up and say how they feel. When you’re given those examples rollerblading, don’t just say, “Nah that’s cool.” Maybe do the thing that we were talking about before and take the time to listen. Maybe read and do some research. Maybe don’t just accept whatever as cool, just because you think it is cool.
Lots of other things are connected to one another. Let’s use more critical thinking, and please for the non black people when we are having these discussions, please listen don’t close yourselves off.
Remember: “white supremacy is the water we all swim in” the work is being anti-racist not just saying you aren’t racist. It’s a job for sure.
I think it can go the other way too, if a person of color is ‘well-spoken’ such as yourself.
Thank you for bringing that up too. That is a thing that I have heard many times. “Oh, you talk white.” To say that I as a black person in America, [who] ‘talks white’ — a black person whose ancestors were brought to this country against their will to build this country — if I would have been born in a different country, that would have been my language. Instead, I was born here and my ancestors were forced to learn this language. There’s no such thing as ‘talking white.’ There is no such thing as ‘talking black.’ There is such a thing as appropriating black culture and black language. The reason I speak this way falls on colonialism and the trading of humans as property.
Philip would like to give shout outs to Rollerblade, Sic Urethane, JSF, Kaltik, Oak City Skate Shop, Cameron Talbott, Sean Keane, Miles, Tom, all the Bay area dudes. He also wanted shoutout Ray Kronenberg, Mike Bukalew.
He wanted to remind everyone that Asphalt Beach Skate shop is a Nashville landmark and to donate if you can. “Steve is a great guy and deserves any help he can get.”
PHILIP HAS COMPILED A LIST BOOKS, PODCASTS, AND ARTICLES IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN FURTHER EXPLORING RACISM AND POLITICS WHICH HE FEELS BEST COVER THE TOPIC. WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND YOU LOOK THROUGH HIS LIST!
James Baldwin: Collected Essays: Notes of a Native Son / Nobody Knows My Name / The Fire Next Time / No Name in the Street / The Devil Finds Work / Other Essays (Library of America)
Philip wants to preface that this he feels all black skaters should listen to this. He does think that there is value for white skaters as well, but if you’re not black you have to pay for the podcast.